“Right to Work” Conference 2011

On the back of last Sunday’s successful Right to Work protest in Birmingham, it is vital that those of us who support the public service,and are determined to fight the vicious coalition cuts keep the momentum going, and the pressure on.

The public spending review is due at the end of October, and whilst we do not yet know just how far the cuts will go; we can be sure that they will hit the hardest in society the hardest. The public sector plays a vital role in the running of our country and we must do all that we possibly can to resist and fight back against the forthcoming storm.

We must fight for every job, fight for our futures and fight for the right to work. The coalition cuts will be too severe and too fast for our fragile economy to cope with. Putting thousands of public sector workers onto benefits is not the way to lead our country into recovery.

Join the Right to Work campaign today, either nationally, through your union or through a local group. As I will be, consider attending the Right to Work conference taking place in Sheffield on Saturday, 11th February 2011. Booking details and prices can be found on the Right to Work website.

Get involved. Stop the Cuts. Defend public services.

No sympathy amongst the rank and file Tories

Following on from yesterdays Right to Work protest in Birmingham, I thought it would be interesting to listen to some of the fallout / opinions from those attending the Conservative conference.

The 7000 committed individuals who braved the adverse weather conditions in Birmingham yesterday made their point loud and clear. They are not to blame for the countries financial problems; yet those on a low wage or on benefits will be the first to suffer once the coalition cuts really start to bite.

As part of BBC Radio 5Live’s coverage of the conference last night; politics commentator, John Pienaar spoke to several people taking part in the protest. He was joined, amongst others by the Daily Mail’s resident idiot Amanda Platell.

Now, you can always normally rely upon Amanda to make a stupid, ill-thought-out comment at the drop of a hat; however last night she really hit the jackpot in the fuckwit stakes. After hearing comments by one of the comments from one union member, Platell made the sort of comment that made me feel sick. The union member asked the question, “What have we done to deserve this?”, in response to a comment about the awaited cuts. Platell’s response on hearing the interview verged on the offensive; “They, (union members), have voted for Labour for the past thirteen years; that’s why they deserve it”. I’m paraphrasing here, but the quotation is as near as damn it accurate.

So, hard-working, low paid union members and public servants ‘deserve’ the threat of job losses, just because of their supposed political views? I don’t need to reiterate the fact that Platell is the Tories resident rent-a-gob; or that such a moron could only write for the Daily Fail. however, this was insensitive in the extreme.

Whilst this comment annoyed me; one a little later from a Tory party member saddened, but didn’t surprise me. Asked what she thought of the protest taking place outside, she replied:

They should get off their backsides and go and do some work

Cameron may like to present the illusion that the Tories have changed, especially since the coalition with the Lib Dems; however the opposite is sadly true. Amongst the rank and file Tories, it appears to be the same old story. Little regard for the ordinary working man and woman, and no clue as to life in the real world outside the Tory bubble.

For a supposedly intelligent individual to assume that all the protesters were ‘unemployed scroungers’ is pathetic in the extreme. It had obviously never crossed her mind that those people braving the rain were amongst the very people who provide the public services that she uses everyday. Hard working people, who right now live in fear of losing their jobs, and understandably have a bleak and uncertain view of what the future holds for them and their families.

Clegg’s final journey to the dark side

Nick Clegg has been having a good old whine about the ‘bile’ within the Labour Party. The nerve of the man never fails to amaze me. It should be obvious to anyone now that his final conversion to the dark side of Toryism is now fully complete.

Such a shame that he now finds himself in the position of having to make pathetic jibes at the opposition. To be fair though, these must be worrying times for Cameron Jnr. Not only does he face the prospect of Lib Dem members leaving the party in their droves; he must also be shitting himself silly at the reports that Charles Kennedy is considering a defection to Labour – something that Charlie himself is yet to deny.

With the prospect of the forthcoming coalition butchery, he could be the first of many who are forced to take a good, hard look at themselves. Hopefully some will rediscover their principles, therefore helping to cut short what is bound to be a nightmare time for all but the most fortunate in society.

I could almost feel sorry for Clegg as I imagine what the next few months will hopefully be like. I don’t though. I have nothing short of contempt for a man who has not only betrayed those Lib Dem members and voters who hoped for so much more; but also the country,which will now pay such a heavy price for what is to come.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Closed shop mentality will only damage Labour

I’ve watched with interest this weekend  the uproar surrounding the news that Alan Milburn was to accept a role as the new ‘social mobility tsar’  for the coalition government. The reaction from a number of Labour members and supporters, particularly on Twitter has been disappointing, but not altogether surprising. Whilst I myself do not hold any especially warm feelings for Milburn, this continued tribal attitude to politics, and to the Labour Party itself does us no favours at all. In fact; it makes us look childish and silly.

People have a short memory. After all, it was only a short time ago that Gordon Brown was trying to assemble his own ‘Government of all the talents.’  Like it or not, Cameron is only attempting to do exactly the very same thing; and we are now in a situation where the public mood calls for greater cooperation between the main political parties.

As a party we have bigger fish to fry. We are going through a vital leadership campaign, one which will decide the electability of  Labour in the coming years up to and beyond the next general election. We must put all of  our energies into getting our own house back in order; a great deal of damage has been done to the party in recent years, and we have lost a lot of Labours traditional support  throughout the country. Now is the time to complete the leadership process, and then to unite as a party behind the eventual winner. Not only must we concentrate on ensuring  that we  provide an effective opposition to the inevitable damage that the coalition will cause; but  we must also regain the trust and support of the Labour heartland.

Milburn and his like belong in our past; and we should consign him there along with our petty partisan attitudes…….

Welfare not to Work

Since the country returned to the dark side with the election of the ‘Condem’ administration. we’ve heard a lot about plans to shake up the benefits system in this country. Having worked previously at a local Jobcentre Plus, I have some experience in this field, and plenty of frustrations at how our system fails to provide help and support where most required.

In many ways, Labour failed to deliver on benefit reform; of course they did introduce some very good measures, such as the minimum wage, working tax credits and ‘Backing Young Britain’. This didn’t go anywhere near far enough though; the new government needs to be radical in its thinking, whilst remaining fair to those claiming.

Of course, my main fear is that Cameron intends to target benefit claimants in a bid to save money; and as was reported today this is exactly what is being planned. Including the pathetic idea of using credit reference agencies to snoop on claimants. Better time and money would be spent chasing those who dodge paying tax in this country, costing up to £40 billion.

So, time for some observations. As mentioned, all too often we fail to provide targeted  advice and assistance to claimants. Targeted support needs to be offered from day one; this should include CV completion, skills checks, better off in work calculations, training, help with application forms and interview preparation. These are basic, but essential tasks that are all too often left too late, or not provided until the claimant has been receiving job seekers allowance for over twelve months. At this stage they are referred to a third-party employment services provider, (such as the one I now work for), where these services suddenly become available.

This is such a stupid way of doing things. Why should an individual have to wait a year before receiving the direct type of help that they in some cases obviously require? I quite often see clients, who after being unemployed for what could be considered a long period of time, who don’t have a CV, have little or no idea how to apply for jobs online and have very limited job search skills. This is where the system really needs to be shaken up. We should be providing these services much earlier, in some cases by twelve months it’s too late, and as a result you end up with a long-term claimant. This really is a tragic state of affairs, particularly when I see so many young people out of work.

However, this is not the fault of jobcentre plus staff, the majority of whom work very hard under quite often difficult circumstances. The system is simply not set up in a fashion to allow JCP staff the flexibility and scope to offer targeted help.

This is where the third-party providers come in. The best solution would be to offer claimants the opportunity to be referred to these providers from day one of their claim. This would be on a voluntary basis, and would provide them with access to training and assistance early on in their claim. There can be no doubt at all that this would increase their chances of finding employment at a far earlier stage. At the moment, under ‘Flexible New Deal’, claimants are referred to providers at twelve months – this should be decreased to six months, and as happens now, this would be compulsory. Only by introducing a programme of assistance at an earlier stage will we begin to tackle the unemployment problem that we have in this country.

Of course, there are those individuals who play the system. People who are claiming benefit, yet not actively seeking work, (a fixed condition of claiming JSA). This is another area where the government need to be brave and radical. There should be much tougher penalties for those either shown to be not looking for work, or for those who refuse employment. I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve seen over the last few years who’ve turned down employment, sometimes for the most pathetic reasons. This should not be an option; all too often I see several different generations from the same families claiming benefit. It seems all too often that the ‘work ethic’ that was instilled into me as a child has all but disappeared from many of today’s families. Of course, the responsibility for this must remain with the parents; but in no way should we write these people off – Cameron will look to target these families in a bid to save money; what we should be doing is looking to change attitudes and behaviour. All part of the so-called ‘Big Society’….

St. Nadine

nadineDM0603_228x674Earlier this week, I thought it might be a good idea to remind people about the disturbing Christian fundamentalist friends and organisations linked to Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP. I need not have worried- true to form, Ms Dorries has yet again provided us with another prime example as to why politics and religion do not, and should not ever mix.

In her latest blog post she manages to berate the Bishop of Liverpool for being ‘slightly too political’. Then in the same breath accuses him of not speaking up on Christian matters that also have an impact on the political world.

Of course, this all comes down to the abortion issue yet again. Ms Dorries is ‘amazed’ that Church of England Bishops do not speak our more with regards to the ‘big questions’. This is obviously in comparison with the more evangelical forms of Christianity that Ms Dorries prefers. For example, as I’ve mentioned previously we know that Ms Dorries has worked closely with groups such as Christian Concern for our Nation; and that through Ms Dorries these fundamentalist groups have received unprecedented access to Parliament – access that most other hard line religious groups could only dream of.

To clarify: I really don’t care about an individuals personal religious views – you should be free to worship or believe in anything you want. What I do find disturbing is when a publicly elected member of parliament allows her own religious views to colour her public duties. Worse still is the fact that Ms Dorries allows herself to be publicly associated with fundamentalist groups.

As Alastair Campbell once famously said – “We don’t do God”. Guess what? He was right as well  – David Cameron would do well to remember that.

Is she really going out with him?

article_99So, as we enter the party conference season once again, I’ve been slightly amused this weekend by the sight of both the Lib Dems and the Tories both trying to woo each others supporters. Perhaps it’s just me, but this seems ever so slightly sleazy – like trying to hit on the girlfriend of someone you don’t particularly like very much, just because you can.

The main difference here of course is that whilst ‘Nasty Nick Clegg’ has come out fighting, describing Cameron as a ‘con man’, in a bid to gain support from dubious Tory voters, Cameron has today appealed directly to the Clegg and his colleagues by pointing out just how similar the two parties really are on policy and their alleged progressive agenda.

Anyone who has read Cameron’s editorial in todays edition of The Observer cannot have failed to have been surprised at the content – Cameron positioning the Tories and Lib Dems as brothers in arms in the fight against Labour.

Take this example:

There’s barely a cigarette paper between us in all these areas. It’s clear: the real enemy of progressive politics is not the Conservatives and I would not claim it is the Liberal Democrats. In truth, it is the bureaucratic, backward-looking, big state government that Labour epitomises. That is why at our conference, instead of trying to create some artificial dividing lines between Liberal Democrat policy and Conservative policy, my message will be: if you want rid of Gordon Brown and the big brother state, and if you care about our schools, our quality of life and our liberties, then join us in one national movement that can bring real change.

It’s easy to read between the lines and see the subtext here – what appears to be an olive branch thrust towards Clegg, is in fact saying, “Join us if you want, although it doesn’t really matter either way, seeing as a large proportion of Lib Dem voters will support us anyway just to remove Labour”

As usual, this the typical sort of slick behaviour that I have come to expect from Cameron; and let’s be honest here, he’s bloody good at it – unfortunately however, the sincerity is all but missing.

How can there possibly be a coalition between the two parties, when their positions on taxation are so very different?

Clegg’s tactics are different – the talk this weekend of  savage cuts , is clearly designed to position the Lib Dems as being braver and more honest than the Tories, who, as usual are unable to back up their shouting with any substance visible to the human eye. The same could be said of the Lib Dem proposals with regards to tuition fees – an obvious overture to Tory voters, and one that has ruffled some feathers amongst the Lib Dem faithful.

Will any of this make any difference though? As I see it, the only winners here are the Tories. Even at this stage, there are many Tory voters who are still unconvinced by Cameron, and possibly to a greater degree by his sidekick George Osborne – however, do we really expect these people to suddenly vote for the Lib Dems? Come next years general election, all those Tory voters will come out in droves if it means removing Brown from power.

Try as they might, the Lib Dems will not benefit from this.